An Evaluation of Black Theology -- By: Byang H. Kato

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 133:531 (Jul 1976)
Article: An Evaluation of Black Theology
Author: Byang H. Kato


An Evaluation of Black Theology

Byang H. Kato

[Byang H. Kato, The Late General Secretary, Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar, Nairobi, Kenya.]

Black theology, which became evident among the blacks of the United States in the 1960s, seeks to emphasize black consciousness and thereby to discover the dignity of the black man. Black consciousness does not necessarily refer to the pigmentation of the skin. Rather, it means an awareness that the particular class of people called “black” have been oppressed. Nyameko Pityana, of Fort Hare University, South Africa, wrote that black theology is “the liberating effect of this self-knowledge and awareness that we refer to as black consciousness.”1 Malcolm McVeigh, of Nairobi University, accurately sums up the concept of black theology when he says, “The primary concern of black theology is liberation, and one sees considerable attention devoted to defining the implications of Jesus’ Gospel for the downtrodden in the face of entrenched political, social, and economic injustice.”2

Root Causes of Black Theology

That black theology was born in the United States and is now rooted in Southern Africa is no accident. As an ideology seeking to liberate the oppressed, that oppression becomes the root cause. Enslavement of Africans by whites is among the worst evils done by one class of people to another. It may be surpassed only by

Hitler’s massacre of six million Jews. Until about twenty years ago, American blacks experienced many kinds of humiliation on account of their race. Today 270,000 whites are dominating the 5.8 million African Rhodesians on the assumption that they are preserving Christian civilization. In Apartheid South Africa today, the Soweto black dweller works to provide comfort for the white suburban inhabitants of ultramodern Johannesburg, but he benefits very little from the fruit of his labor. To keep the black man in perpetual bondage, the racist regime is reported to spend about $750 a year for the education of an average white child and only about $45 for a black child.3 It has also been reported that in South Africa $378 million are spent on the education of 4 million whites and $1.1 million on 21 million blacks.4 Injustice of this type is one of the several evils that have given rise to black theology.

While not all oppressors of blacks are Christians, some white Christians have been party to the system of oppression. Some have justified their unchristian practice from the s...

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